View 729 Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Alas, the Bunhead TV series wasn’t able to continue what it did in the pilot. The show attempted to leap into the middle, becoming a sitcom without establishing the characters and the backstory; the pilot tries to do all that in one episode, and that was itself a mistake. I can agree that compressing the Los Vegas part into a few minutes was a good idea, but there wasn’t enough time given to the development of the characters once they got to ‘Paradise’, or indeed even to establish the small town (doesn’t even have a movie theater) as a real place; and the secondary characters, the four young dancers, are merely sketched in and never developed. Then they killed off Michelle’s husband just as we got to know and sort of understand him.
It was all too much. They can’t decide if they’re in a slapstick farce or a deeper comedy, so they keep skipping in and out, disconcerting the audience. I can’t imagine that anyone who hadn’t watched the pilot managed to sit through last night’s episode, and my apologies to any of you who tried.
I thought this had potential. Sutton Foster is nearly perfect for the role I thought she had, and the rest of the cast is great –
I got interrupted in writing the above by a phone call from my daughter, who missed Father’s Day for better reasons than I generally have for not calling someone. Then it was lunch time, my downstairs bathroom needed attention, and I thought I’d try to see if I could do anything about the growing problem with the TV. I used some Stabilant 22 on all the cables. I’ve been writing about Stabilant 22 since S-100 says, and it has won my Users’ Choice award more than once. They sent me a supply of the stuff a dozen years ago, and I still have some left. It is a contact enhancer, and will often fix mysterious problems – one of my early Pournelle’s Laws was that 90% of computer problems were with cables. Alas, this time it didn’t help. I also tried doing what the Time Warner manual says to try, which is hold the set top box power switch to off until the word ‘boot’ appears, but holding that button never creates that result. It would go to ‘standby’ but never to ‘boot’ or for that matter to ‘off.’ For those who missed this last time, my nice Samsung flat screen has taken to not turning on for about half an hour; that is, you turn on the set, and it flickers on and back off again, and hisses, and clearly is looking for a signal it can’t find, and then, suddenly, voila! It is working fine. I don’t have any problem with the set top box, but a couple of readers have suggested that I try to reboot the cable box since It may be sending confusing signals. I don’t think that’s it. Anyway, there’s one way to make a computer boot again, so I pulled the plug on both TV and cable box and waited a full minute.
So anyway, I had hard reset my TV system, and I turned it on and had lunch. It used to be that the TV took 31 minutes to turn on. This time it was more than an hour of hissing, partial signals, growling, flashing on and then popping off. It was ‘on’ in the sense that there is there is the soft ‘on’ light and the red power light sometimes blinks, but the screen was blank until it would suddenly flash on, then fall off again. This time, after my hard boot, it took over an hour for the darned thing to go on and stay on, after which it works reasonably well, but dropped off a couple of times over the next hour, none of those drop-offs lasting for more than a few seconds.
But it was working. The cable box menu was about half filled with “to be announced”, proving that it had rebooted, and many of the program announcements had been restored. I wanted to see if it remembered programs I had recorded, and lo! they were all there, including Bunheads, and for some reason I started watching that again.
I was mostly looking to see why I had ever liked it in the first place, and I ended up making a discovery. It really is a good show. The acting is good, Many of the scenes are well crafted. The problem is that it tries to convey too much information too fast. It’s a bit like an opera, which is more focused on individual scenes than on the story line. Since nearly all opera fans already know the story line, that’s just fine, but it can be confusing to newcomers, and is probably one reason for the slow decline of opera’s popularity. Anyway, ‘Bunheads’ is a bit like that. Once I understood the story line – Fanny is somewhat crazy and can’t face reality, and many of the town people know that but humor her because they like her; Michelle is as confused as she appears to be and is a lot more disturbed about the death of a husband she didn’t love but was just falling in love with. The high school girls in the tiny little town are in between worlds. Incidentally, they found a movie to go to although we were told last week that there’s no movie house in the town, but leave that. But it is a small town, the girls are not experienced at much in life, and – well, it’s a fantasy world, but one a lot more like my high school days than anything happening in the Hollywood region.
Anyway, I found myself watching the whole episode again, and it’s easy enough to admire the acting once you realize what the story line is. Or it was that way with me. I doubt that anyone who wasn’t smitten by the pilot will ever find this episode enjoyable, and I suspect the series is doomed. If watched from pilot on it will grow on some people, but it won’t be picking up more viewers as time goes on – at least, not with the pace I have seen. Pity. There’s some really good acting in there, and some good writing, and there’s actually a pretty good story going, but it’s being told too fast. You have to want to like this show, and not many will. Ah well.
I got this today from a long time reader:
“It is time to have a complete new debate on intellectual property laws, and a complete redrafting of copyright and patent. The problem is that those who make the laws know little about the technology, and those who use the technology know little about law.”
I submit that the wheels of Legislation turn exceedingly slow. By the time such a revision to the copyright law is passed computer technology will have advanced past the point where the law is relevant. In fact, I would not be surprised if the people in the ‘know’ can anticipate what the law will be and devise technological means to circumvent it.
All of which is true enough, but it doesn’t solve the problem. There is such a thing as intellectual property, and the current legal system isn’t doing too well with it. Perhaps there needs to be something like the common law, which evolves over time, judge-made law developed by applying the “reasonable man” standards and arguments. Of course it took a long time for the common law to evolves and develop, much of the long reign of Henry I and then (after the civil wars of the time of Maud and King Stephen) the reign of Henry II. Of course that would require judges who understand the technology and who have a flair for unifying practices into standards.
I don’t have a simple solution to the situation, but I am convinced that we need revision of the patent and copyright laws, and that I don’t know anyone who does have all the answers. I also know that there will be laws, and they will develop – and if the creators of intellectual property are not involved in their creation, they will probably not like them much. Victor Hugo was able to draft the international convention fairly well, but that was a century ago, and I doubt we have anyone of his stature in the intellectual community today.
Firefox seems to hate the latest Adobe Flash Player. I will go to a web site and there will be a black spot in the middle. I used Firefox to get and in theory install Flash Player after I noted that it wasn’t running. That got me the foo about it can’t install when Firefox is running. It turns out you can’t just close Firefox and continue the installation. In some disgust I closed off Firefox and went to Explorer. Tried to install Adobe Flash Player. That got me a bunch of stuff about installing Real Player. Which told me that I already had Real Player. So I told it to go ahead and do Real Player again, It did, and then told me I already had Real Player did I want to overwrite that?
Now it’s telling me it is installing Flash Player. We’ll see. All this used to work, except that every day Adobe Flash Player would tell me it had to update. Every day. Flash Player is still installing or thinks it is. I may just have to go uninstall flash player and real player and start over. With luck that will work with Firefox when all this is over. Ye heavens.
Well it wants to install all kinds of stuff, including a tool bar from someone, Yahoo or maybe America on Line or something else not relevant to me. I got past all that and eventually after all the dodging about Real Player and some other application I don’t use, Firefox popped up, and half a dozen tabs began talking at once. I had to go through and find the ones that had Flash apps trying to play. That included a couple I didn’t even know had a background flash thing, or maybe it was something else. Anyway, Flash now works, I have silenced the cacophony, and I seem to be back in control of this computer again.
My advice to anyone using Firefox is to shut it down before doing anything serious about downloads and installation. Open one and only one tab of Explorer, and use that. I did that with the ESET on line scanner earlier after a phishing attack that I didn’t go for, and life would have been a lot simpler if I had done that for installing Flash. And I have a lot of sympathy for Jobs’s decree that Flash wouldn’t sully his Apples…
And, of course, now Windows Live Writer isn’t working properly. It is uploading this stuff, but it it supposed to go to the browser and show me what it did. Instead the screen blinks for a second, but it doesn’t bring up the browser or jump to that window. I’ll now try publishing again with Firefox minimized and see if it now pops up. If that doesn’t work I can close Firefox and restart it. This is being nibbled by ducks…
Nope. It does not pop up Firefox. The good news is that the revision did upload, so I can open Firefox, refresh, and yeah verily there is what I did. Now let’s see if this will work properly after I restart Firefox.
Ah. That worked. It now actually puts this up in a new tab and goes to that tab. All is well. And Flash is working. Routine maintenance…
Nope. Now Flash isn’t working properly. Or in fact at all. I’m going to close everything, reset the system, and if need be start over with explorer and reinstall Flash. I don’t actually hate Flash, but I am finding that annoying.
All right. This all started with my trying to watch just what Romney said about the WaWa sandwich experience that drove the Huiffington Post to declare him completely out of touch with the world. On this machine the video won’t play. I just assumed that was Flash. But I find I can play that video from that site on Firefox on another machine, and on Explorer on this machine – and in both cases it pops up an ad that has to run before the clip will run. Apparently I have set up Firefox to block ads, and now have forgotten how to disable the darned things. I expect if I thought about it I could figure it out.
But it does seem to me there’s something else here. Firefox has set it so that if you block the ads, the entire clip is blocked. Forever, if there’s a lead in ad. And it does not tell you why or how to do something about it. I am more and more becoming annoyed with Firefox.
As to the wretched Huffington Post and MSNBC which edited Romney’s speech so that his use of the efficiency of WaWa to contrast with government action into what appears to be Romney doing a Goshwow about how sandwich ordering works and isn’t he realy out of touch with the world – well, it’s about what I’d expect from Huffington Post and MSNBC, which are actually more partisan than the Chicago politicians who run Obama’s political activities (which, by the way, seem to consume far more of his time than his activities as President).
I can’t do much about MSNBC and the Huffingrton Post other than point out their usual egregious behavior – but alas, the incident has shown me I need to revamp my system. I don’t like watching videos as a means to get information. I much prefer to read rather than listen to someone read to me, or see a video of someone reading to me. On the other hand, I do need to know what’s going on, and if Firefox blocks something it ought to tell me what it did and what I can do about it.
There are ways in which Firefox is attractive, and I enjoy some of the effects of ad blocking, but this just won’t do.
All right. I have now used Explorer to let me look at the original Romney stump talk, in which he tells about an optometrist requiring a 30 page form to be submitted three times before Medicare/Medicare would accept his change of address. He goes months without getting paid for the work he has done. One presumes – but it is a presumption – that eventually he was sent the money owed him, but for months he could not get the government to note his change of address. Then he tells a story of going to a burger place and using a touch screen to order a sandwich, and says “Amazing” – as a contrast to business as usual with the government. It was a pretty good talk to a reasonable crowd.
So, of course, the execrable MSNBC edits out all but the story of ordering a sandwich and the expletive “Amazing” and the genius commentators say it looks like he’s out of touch, he doesn’t even know how to order a sandwich, and all the other breathless liberal commentators pile on. As I said, that’s not amazing. That’s standard liberal journalism. You can expect it whenever they can get away with it, and sometimes when they can’t. This one blew up in their face. MSNBC, Washington Post, Huffington Post, all jumped on, loving the story, and shouting in glee at the boob Romney’s insensitivity. That’s good liberal journalism. Hoorah.
But for me the lesson has been that I can’t rely on Firefox. If I want to watch Flash I have to go to Explorer or another computer with Firefox with different settings. Or something. You’d think I could figure out the settings but I haven’t so far. The good news is that the problem is apparently only on this machine and this Firefox.
As expected, Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC and her Washington Post colleague have not offered any apology for their sleazy editing of Romney’s “Wawa! It’s Amazing” speech. After taking salvo after salvo for its entirely unprofessional acts, MSNBC finally did run the entire speech, showing that it was in fact part of a commentary on the relative efficiency of government failure vs. private enterprise, but you have to watch the original video to see that: Mitchell doesn’t explain it. MSNBC has misled hundreds of people with this, Hundreds…
© 2012, jerrypournelle. All rights reserved.